JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli workers have dug a patch of earth from the bottom of the Mughrabi gate of the compound housing Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowments and Heritage said Monday.
The foundation said trucks transported the dirt from the base of the holy site after it was dug up manually overnight to avoid notice.
It warned that Israel is conducting secret excavations at night which will obliterate Palestinian heritage.
The compound, the Haram al-Sharif, is in the old walled city of Jerusalem, which Israel captured along with the West Bank in a 1967 war and annexed in a step not recognized by the international community.
For Muslims the Dome of the Rock inside the compound marks the spot from which Prophet Muhammad made his night journey to heaven. The Haram al-Sharif is the third holiest site in Islam.
Jews revere the compound as the site of their Biblical Temple. Surviving foundations of its Western Wall are now a focus of prayer.
Any construction or interference at the site can be politically explosive.
On September 28, 2000, Ariel Sharon visited the Al-Aqsa compound surrounded by a 1,000-strong security force. The move is widely believed to have contributed to the beginning of the second intifada, or uprising, against Israeli military occupation.
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